Senate Bill 1
When I ran for State Senate I vowed to put public service over politics, always. In taking my place as a member of the California Legislature, I vowed to ensure that the best interests of the state and the district are fully addressed in the most strategic and prudent way possible. I vowed to find pragmatic, common sense approaches to our states most pressing issues.
With that as my backdrop, I firmly believe that Senate Bill (SB) 1, the 2017 Road Repair and Accountability Act, which was recently passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor, is in the best interest of Californians. Through a combination of new user-based taxes and fees, SB-1 would generate approximately $5 billion annually to address the massive backlog of transportation needs currently facing our great state, the full cost of which is estimated to total upwards of $130 billion.
The component of SB 1 which would directly affect the most Californians is a 12-cent increase in the current gasoline excise tax, which would amount to an increase of $7-10 a month for California drivers. Like all of my fellow legislators who voted for the measure, this was not an easy decision for me. Nobody wants to raise taxes, particularly in a way that would hit low-income and working Californians the hardest. But, when you consider the size and scope of our state, and by extension the programs and services that are needed to properly serve it, I was persuaded that there was no practical way to find the monies necessary to start making progress on rebuilding our crumbling roads and transportation infrastructure to a level that will fully support a dynamic and growing California economy.
Our roads and bridges are in a state of disrepair that no Californian would expect or should tolerate. That’s an undeniable fact. You see it on your daily commute. Further inaction on infrastructure needs would be an absolute disservice to you, my constituents and to the people of California. It would also be a disservice to future generations, who would have to pay the price. As stated, we already face over $130 billion in backlogged repairs; we can’t let that number get any bigger. This winter’s storms alone caused over $800 million in infrastructure damage.
That’s why I was glad to vote for this legislation. SB 1 is an investment in our state’s economy. It is estimated to create more than 50,000 new jobs a year for the next decade. It’s an investment in reducing traffic congestion, repairing bridges and potholes, and improving traffic flow. Our region stands to gain over $1.5 billion in allocations from revenues raised.
To those who say we should have been investing in infrastructure all along, instead of tolerating the shortfalls of the past two decades which led to the current situation, I agree completely. But in the here and now, I'm persuaded that the only way to solve California's critical infrastructure needs is to properly invest now, and to do it in a way that ensures full accountability and transparency. You want to know where your hard earned money is going and that’s fair.
That’s why I co-authored a constitutional amendment, ACA 5, which would ensure that all new revenues raised from this legislation cannot be legally diverted for any other purpose. ACA 5 was approved by the required two-thirds vote by both the Senate and the Assembly and, following the Governor's signature, will appear as a proposition for approval by the voters on the next statewide ballot.
The state hasn’t added new funding to fix roads in over twenty years. That’s why we had to take action now. The gas tax has not been increased once in the last 23 years; in that time, California’s population has grown by eight million, adding millions more vehicles to our roads. We’ve already put this off for too long. It would benefit no one (except perhaps politicians afraid of making the tough votes) to postpone these critical infrastructure repairs any longer.
If you have questions about this legislation or any concerns you want to convey to me, I implore you to contact me at my district office: (714) 671-9474. I am here to serve you. I never want you to feel like your voice is not being heard, or your concerns are not being addressed.